CHANGES IN FEDERAL REGULATIONS BRING A MIX OF CHANGES TO RULES GOVERNING COMMERCIAL TRUCKING

In an addendum to a bill that funds the Department of Transportation for the year, the US Senate committee in charge of transportation issues has approved of a change to existing federal regulations governing large trucks, which would allow semis to pull two 33-foot trailers on any highway governed by the National Highway System. 

The truck configuration, known colloquially as a "twin 33," involves a tractor pulling two 33-foot trailers connected lengthwise. Twin 33s are currently not permitted in fully 39 of the 50 states, but, should the funding bill pass both the remainder of the Senate and be approved by the President, the extra-long tractor trailers would be allowed in every state by October 2015. Proponents of the change to the rules argue that, currently, many semis and tractor-trailers are operating while at full capacity in terms of volume, but are well under the weight limit. This is in part attributed to the increasing popularity over recent years of free shipping through such websites as Amazon and other online shopping outlets. Advocates argue that allowing trucks on the road that have greater capacity to hold more lightweight packages would result in fewer trucks being on the road, and thus, fewer accidents.

A number of public figures have voiced strong opposition to the larger trucks, however, and the bill received a passing vote from the transportation Senate committee only narrowly. Opponents describe the increased toll that such large trucks will take on aging roads. The department of transportation in each state would need to apply for an exemption for the individual sections of highway that are deemed unsuitable for twin 33s, and to have those exemptions approved by the US Department of Transportation. Many also point to the sheer size of these trucks as making them patently unsafe. Twin 33s are 85 feet long, as compared to a single-trailer semi, which measure 53 feet in length, or even twin 28-foot trailers, which are 66 feet long. Twin 33s require 22 additional feet to come to a stop over the amount required for twin 28-foot trailers. Twin 33s, the opponents say, are simply too big to be safe on the road.

If you or someone you know has been injured in a crash with a large truck or tractor-trailer, speak to an attorney who understands this complex field of litigation. Seeking damages against commercial trucking companies involves nuanced legal and factual questions, and requires a lawyer with experience in the area. For a consultation on your potential truck accident lawsuit, contact the Morristown, New Jersey law firm of Smith & Doran, at 973-292-0016.

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